Shanghai Motor Show - Mercedes-Benz will soon launch a new compact SUV called the GLB and this concept car, revealed in Shanghai on Tuesday, closely previews this new challenger.

As its name implies, the GLB will slot between the GLA and GLC, but whereas those two fit on the sportier side of the equation, the GLB has a more rugged and practical attitude shining through in its design and packaging.

The 4634mm-long SUV is built on the company’s MFA-2 front-wheel-drive platform that also underpins the A-Class, B-Class and GLA, but the GLB will serve as a more family-friendly alternative to its compact siblings - its 100mm-longer wheelbase allowing the SUV to seat up to seven occupants. Mercedes says that its foldable third seating row can comfortably accommodate two medium sized adults.

The cabin closely resembles the A-Class facia, complete with the widescreen layout and MBUX command centre, but the concept also adds a few extra lavish touches such as Nubuk leather in chestnut brown, open-pore walnut inlays and orange trim strips.

The GLB Concept is powered by Merc’s M 260 2-litre turbopetrol engine as found in the A250, with outputs of 165kW and 350Nm, but the production model will no doubt offer a full range of petrol and diesel engines.

The concept’s 2-litre motor is mated to an eight-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive with a central diff that can apportion torque between the axles as needed, and also lock things at 50:50 when required for off-roading.

"We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range. The Concept GLB is the answer to this question,” says Mercedes board member Britta Seeger.

"The Concept GLB is a durable and practical SUV with nonetheless compact dimensions. Whether it is a generous, seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure time companion: we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers."

According to international media reports, the GLB is set to go into production towards the end of 2019.

IOL Motoring